Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry was applied to studies of the molecular heterogeneity of desialylated human IgA1 hinge region glycopeptides released with two IgA1 proteases. Typically, the hinge region of an α1 chain contains three to five O-linked glycan chains. Variants of the hinge region peptides released from IgA1(Kni) myeloma protein carrying 0, 1, 2, or 3 GalNAc residues were observed in the mass spectra as well as the nonglycosylated peptide. Variable numbers of Gal residues indicated additional heterogeneity in O-glycosylation of IgA1. In the hinge region preparation from normal human serum IgA1, glycopeptides carrying 2, 3, 4, or 5 GalNAc residues with variable numbers of Gal residues were detected. In conclusion, our new approach using the site-specific cleavage with two IgA1 proteases allowed precise and sensitive MALDI-TOF mass spectrometric analysis of O-glycosylation heterogeneity in IgA1 hinge region. © 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.